D.C.

National Mall complex proposed to alleviate parking problems

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - There’s a new proposal being discussed that would add 1,000 parking spaces to the National Mall.

The plan would add a parking deck and a cistern between the Smithsonian Castle and the Museum of Natural History.

Never enough parking in Washington is definitely a problem at the National Mall. Supporters of a new proposal say their project would solve that and pay for itself with revenues, but not everyone supports the idea. The non-profit group National Coalition to Save Our Mall says there’s a better way to deal with all the vehicles, buses and tourists that descend every day on the National Mall.

“We had trouble finding parking,” says Nelson Carvalho, who is visiting from Tennessee. “We had to walk a quarter of a mile.”

The proposal, a complex under the National Mall, would include underground parking, a food court, a visitors center, and cisterns to protect the Mall from flooding. It’s expected to take several years to build.

“I don’t see the reasoning behind it,” says Philip Mason, of West Virginia. “I wouldn’t tear it up.”

“It will probably bring in more traffic and it’s a landmark,” says Glenn Gran, of Boston. “They should find another place.”

A group of visitors from Chile say a smiliar project in their city also faced misgivings.

“At first people were afraid, but after we saw that we still had the grass and trees and now parking, it was good,” says Claudia Ribalta.

Daniel Schuttinga and his wife often bring their children to the Mall and think the project’s benefits outweigh the time the Mall would spend under construction.

“To tear up the Mall is too bad, but in the end it will be worth it,” he says.

“We had to circle around forever to find parking. It will definitely be worth it," says his wife, Ursula.

This is just an initial proposal. It faces a lot of questions and debate from the public, city officials, and federal officials as well as an environmental impact study. The coalition says it welcomes the public’s input.

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